Investing in Boys and Young Men of Color: The Promise and Opportunity

Apr 03, 2013

The path to adulthood can be especially difficult for many middle- and high-school-aged young men of color. They are more likely to grow up in poverty, live in unsafe neighborhoods, and go to under-resourced schools—all of which affect their lifelong health and well-being. What is at stake for America is the possibility of losing an entire generation of productive men who will fall short of their potential, live less healthy lives, and fail to build and strengthen their communities.

In 2011, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) created the Forward Promise initiative within its Vulnerable Populations Portfolio to place a strategic emphasis on the needs of middle school- and high school-aged young men of color. RWJF’s goal is to strengthen educational opportunities, pathways to employment, and health outcomes for these young men.

CLASP worked with RWJF to conduct a scan of issues facing boys and young men of color in the areas of education, health, and pathways to employment. The goal of the scan was to understand both the barriers and opportunities in this work in order to make an informed decision about where to place resources to best influence outcomes for boys and young men of color. The results of the scan are available in our brief, “Investing in Boys and Young Men of Color: The Promise and Opportunity.”

From the scan came eight key ideas for investing in boys and young men of color:

Recommendation #1: Promote school discipline approaches that address behavioral problems without pushing students out of school

Recommendation #2: Increase the use of data to target interventions to boys of color at risk for dropping out of school

Recommendation #3: Expand opportunities for young men of color to work, learn, and develop career-enhancing skills

Recommendation #4: Elevate the importance of a “caring adult” in policy and programmatic efforts to re-engage out-of-school males

Recommendation #5: Provide options for out-of-school males to attain a secondary credential with pathways to postsecondary education

Recommendation #6: Increase the cultural competency of health professionals and educators who work with boys and young men of color

Recommendation #7: Change the philosophy and culture of how youth systems provide services to youth experiencing violence and trauma

Recommendation #8: Increase access to health care services for boys and young men of color

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